TWIR9: Near halfway point, Panthers & Warriors standing tall

COMMENTARY — Following Wednesday’s boys games, we will officially be to the halfway point of Region 9 basketball. We’ve learned a few things along the way. Here are some of our observations from the first half of region play:

The first-place Panthers hope to have Jack Bangerter back soon from injury. File photo from Dixie at Pine View, St . George, Utah, Jan. 8, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, St. George News
The first-place Panthers hope to have Jack Bangerter back soon from injury. File photo from Dixie at Pine View, St . George, Utah, Jan. 8, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, St. George News

Pine View (5-1) — The Panthers appear to have turned that corner and have become a legitimate threat to win a state title. They have size (Kody Wilstead), post moves (Collin Dowdell), hustle (Jed Newby), shooting (Ryan Koller, Jack Bangerter) and a tenacious point guard (Chaz Peterson). But don’t hand out any hardware yet. Four of PV’s final six games are on the road, starting with Friday’s visit to Hurricane. Circle next Wednesday (Jan. 29) on the calender. That’s the rematch with Snow Canyon. Remaining home games (2): Snow Canyon, Desert Hills; Remaining road games (4): Hurricane, Dixie, Canyon View, Cedar.

Snow Canyon (4-1) — The Warriors are still the reigning region champs and handed Pine View its only loss. Center Nate Gottfredson is starting to get some offensive help inside from Hayden Anderson. Chase Jenkins and Tanner Sampson make a good combo at guard, with Jenkins one of the top assist-men in the region and Sampson leading Region 9 in 3-pointers made with 25. Jacob Frei is the guy in between them all, creating shots when there are none. But how deep is SC? Brock Staheli and Warner Rigby are the only two reserves averaging more than two points a game. Remaining home games (3): Canyon View, Dixie, Desert Hills; Remaining road games (4): Desert Hills, Pine View, Hurricane, Cedar.

Desert Hills (3-2) — The Thunder need a bit of a reset after getting beaten badly at home by Pine View. But no time for that with SC in the Thunderdome Wednesday night. Even with that home loss, Desert Hills can stay in the region title race with a win vs. Snow Canyon. Against PV, no one was terrible, but everyone under-performed just a little and the aggregate was a big loss. Quincy Mathews leads the team in scoring and rebounding, but he’s not really a 3-point guy (he has just three this season). In fact, maybe that’s the biggest problem for DH this year. No one on the team is a serious threat from deep. Reserve Sam Messinger has the most with 12, less than one per game. But DH has size (Trey Tanner, Austin Adams) and spunk (Brycen Williams, Landen Broadhead, Taylor Houston). Remaining home games (4): Snow Canyon, Dixie, Hurricane, Canyon View; Remaining road games (3): Cedar, Pine View, Snow Canyon.

Dixie (2-3) — The Flyers have a dynamic point guard in R.J. Wilgar, an athletic two in Jake Hawes and a versatile center in Sam Guymon, plus an intriguing supporting cast in Jake Christiansen, Harrison Labrum, Izaic Blazzard and Tyler Bennett. But they don’t have much size and when the shooting touch disappears, Dixie struggles, like it did in a home loss to Canyon View last Friday. Guymon should be back from a concussion soon, which will help and it’s safe to say the Flyers can beat anyone on a given night, having already beaten DH and SC. The real issue is consistency. Hustle and heart can only go so far if the shooting touch doesn’t return. Remaining home games (3): Hurricane, Pine View, Cedar; Remaining road games (4): Cedar, Desert Hills, Snow Canyon, Canyon View.

Cedar (2-3) — Two almost-wins at the two top teams in the region, PV and SC, point to better things to come when they return home for the Redmen. Cedar lost both those games by three points and Kordan Nielson was tremendous in both contests. But he can’t be that good every night, can he? Dustin Staggs is doing his part to help, but CHS has just one other player, Kyle Wood at 5.6, that averages more than three points game. In other words, if Nielson ever has a bad night, Cedar’s in big trouble. Cedar is 7-7 overall and Nielson averages 18 in the seven wins and 15 in the seven losses. Remaining home games (4): Dixie, Desert Hills, Pine View, Snow Canyon; Remaining road games (3): Canyon View, Hurricane, Dixie.

Hurricane (1-4) — After a winless region season last year, the Tigers are optimistic that a playoff spot is within reach, especially if they can get a road win Wednesday night at Canyon View. Kaden Langston has become one of the top point guards in the region and Cody LeBaron is a legitimate scorer. But Hurricane also lacks a true post presence. Scoring-wise, Jayce Housley and Austen Beatty help out and Erik Williams is tough as nails. But the offense has been finicky for HHS. The Tigers have failed to top 50 points during their current four-game losing streak. Remaining home games (4): Pine View, Cedar, Snow Canyon, Canyon View; Remaining road games (3): Canyon View, Dixie, Desert Hills.

Canyon View (1-4) — That win at Dixie last week is a classic example of the parity in Region 9 in 2014. The Falcons feel like they are a playoff team and a road win against a contender showed it. But a win Wednesday night at home against Hurricane is an absolute must. Koy Huxford is a good player and probably should shoot more. The Falcons have shown tenacity, even in a couple of their losses (Pine View, D-Hills). Except for Huxford, the Falcons also struggle to shoot the 3-pointer. Derek Dunnell showed some potential there against Pine View. Remaining home games (4): Hurricane, Cedar, Pine View, Dixie; Remaining road games (3): Snow Canyon, Desert Hills, Hurricane.

Here is this week’s boys and girls basketball schedule:

Desert Hills at Canyon View, 7 p.m.
Dixie at Snow Canyon, 7 p.m.
Pine View at Cedar, 7 p.m.

Dixie at Cedar, 7 p.m.
Hurricane at Canyon View, 7 p.m.
Snow Canyon at Desert Hills, 7 p.m.

Canyon View at Snow Canyon, 7 p.m.
Desert Hills at Cedar, 7 p.m.
Hurricane at Dixie, 7 p.m.

Cedar at Canyon View, 7 p.m.
Dixie at Desert Hills, 7 p.m.
Pine View at Hurricane, 7 p.m.


This Week In Region 9 is written by Andy Griffin and provides a glance at prep sports in southern Utah. Click the email below for submissions and to provide updates from your favorite sports that we might have missed.

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